June 16-June 22: Ellen Sander and Joel Chace

Week of June 16-June 22

Ellen Sander and Joel Chace


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Ellen Sander


In the mid-late sixties, Ellen Sander was one of a handful of writers inventing rock journalism After a cavort through rock journalism that permanently illuminated her imagination, and a book, Trips (Scribners) a memoir of that voyage, she moved from New York to Bolinas, north of San Francisco, at a time when Bolinas was literally crawling with poets Surrounded by poetics, the ocean and a wildlife preserve, engaged by the first years of motherhood, and a young green Arabian horse, her life and literary orientation began to shift like tectonic plates In addition to the voluptuous setting in the foothills of Mt Tam, she was mentored by the presence of some of the finest living poets on the contemporary American landscape
A performance poet who still lapses into journalism from time to time, Sander now lives on Venice beach in L.A watching the constant parade of the fabulous chasing the incorrigible mixing with the wisps of the beats and bohos that lived and wrote there before there were personal computers

Her work has been published in Saturday Afternoon Journal vols 9, 10, 11 and 12, Habibi, Aladdin’s lamp, Words are Birds and on several poetry sites on the Web

The following work is Copyright © 1997 and owned by Ellen Sander and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.


Gripping fingers sweat
press harder on her neck
Your hand sweeps
the wind
through a black hole
escapes her heart
hemi semi demi quavers triple
       time scatter flung
                tremolos cry

She screams into your fire Your body curls
beating around her She’s sobbing:

“I do not even live
until you hold me
until you touch me “

“We can ride this wave forever
our keen ache lingers starkly
in the fading air “

Spent, her body hums
even after you
set her gently down
and bow
Venice, 1996

En Passant

A fine crimson craze on your thigh
when we were done
we admired it, trying
to name the primal resonance

these small favors of the moon
spilling across three oceans
wrapped around flickering shadows
pretending to be us

between cherries in Central Park
you with your English accent
me letting California slide away
like good intentions, peak performances
and punk

we talked about impressionists
with a lower case I
we can talk about art
as if we were captions

it’s okay, we don’t know how
to talk about ourselves and say enough
in so short a time to feel
as familiar as we already do

and I forgot to ask what they
call rice pudding in Dover
I never eat rice pudding in L.A or feel like I am on the edge of grandeur

trees, who were just grey claws last week
bloom like popcorn glissandos
cascading past carriage houses uptown
I still think about how I held you

in my open palm and later we walked the
Soho streets, rocking on uneven pavement
feet straining to remember what steps
feel like falling together
New York, 1997

Break Like The Day
(for Jay)

don’t hold back
break like the day
in humblest awe
of the gift of beginning

each day starts
with letting the night go
letting stars and darkness
slip to the other side

first light is a Zen master
perambulating teacher
blessing by appointment
each morning
and all that falls into it

you are part of this perfection

a serene treasure
of unmitigating constancy
the veil of dawn parts to
blow a bride’s fragile kiss over
the shadows’ surrender

Venice Beach, 1997


cost of doing business
just went up
in the land of ammo
rodriguez and hillel
hit the deck together

the border patrol came down
looking for women they may have contacted
all in a day’s work
the business of comfort is also
on the line

two dead
thirty thousand at the gate
cada dia mas y mas
we’re getting used to it
it never stops

L.A , 1997


If only those dunes were pillows
where great gods lay their curly heads down to nicker and burrow and float arms gently around the curves and folds of erosion

these winds would be deep cover
wrapped moving around the gods
impervious to whispers and traces
of visiting daughters jealous and fitful in white dresses and torn stockings
Sand driven wind stinging
just to touch them deeply
and be gone, like the
pulsing trace of contact melting from hungry flesh as clear a call as deepest waters
Glaring moons bare slatted shadows
across mountain breasts rising and falling with silent sighs know that
snug in sullen and disappointed mist

are gods who sleep and dream of undulating nudges from burnished summer women and lost gowns cast aside in midnight sweet abandon
haunted by the scent and murmurs
rotating to the east and groan as heavy
gleaming loins come to rest as dunes
Pt Dume, 1997

At Rossalini’s

Roasted bell peppers
lay on grape leaves
gleaming with oil
on the plate in silent witness
like children taught to behave
but secretly giggling

smoked fish, fresh dill
glasses of chilled vodka
herring pickles and bread so rich it
touches back when lifted

we are slow to speak
it has been so long

we hunger to find
something to say
like I’m sorry or I miss you
it is so nice to be back here
how did you find this place
(who else have you been here with?)

garlic smoked shroom
arugala and watercress
tiny white trumpets in the bud vase
nod in the breeze of a passing waiter

Joel Chace


My poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals and magazines such as the following: The SenecaReview, The Connecticut Poetry Review, Spinning Jenny, Poetry Motel, No Exit, Pembroke Magazine, Crazy Horse, Kudos (England), Porto-Franco (Romania), and elsewhere, as well as in WEB magazines such as KUDZU, SLUMGULLION, RECURSIVE ANGEL, SNAKESKIN, HIGHBEAMS, THE MORPO REVIEW, and PIF

Northwoods Press, in 1984, published my collection of poems entitled The Harp Beyond the Wall Persephone Press, in 1991, published my second book, Red Ghost, which won the first Persephone Press Book Award and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in that same year Big Easy Press, in 1995, brought out a collection entitled Court of Ass-Sizes

Due out this month is a full-length collection, Twentieth Century Deaths, from Singular Speech Press Another full-length book is due out later this year, from Birch Brook Press; and a bi-lingual edition of my poems is presently being prepared for publication in Romania

I am presently serving as a poetry editor for the Antietam Review (Hagerstown, Maryland)

The following work is Copyright © 1997 and owned by Joel Chace and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

NOTE: The following poems will appear in the forthcoming collection TWENTIETH CENTURY DEATHS, but they have not been previously published in magazines

Disturbing the Peace

Kitchen noises
in early-morning dark:

cupboard door creaks;
over linoleum, slippers scrape
Then the house-sized
garbage truck bangs

along its endless route,
corner to corner to corner
“Gnaw Gnaw,” says hunger “Gnaw Gnaw,” says guilt.


Fog-whisps cling to the cold, silver lake Grays, whites, blacks:
at 6 A.M all other colors
can’t pronounce themselves;
docks and sailboats,
hemlocks, cottages, cars
waver in mist, half-focus
in the darkroom solution of dawn
There, on a low wooden float,
only the little blue heron
is sure of itself Rigid, paper-thin,
on its own hunger
it concentrates like steel.

Three-Day Wind

Groaning against buildings,
to tell its journey
out of immense spaces,
along unwalled corridors of night,
sweeping over blear-eyed, limp-gray dawn, and noon, brittle and exhausted
Not raging, just insistent:
children’s busyness,
traffic’s parallel rush
obscure the wisdom of that drone But chimneys, door frames’ crevices,
and wells of ever-wakeful grief
let the low music in,
give it resonance and ear.


You woke to .what?–
dark thoughts of debasement and decay?
a thrill of promise or lingering scent of love? crackle of Top 40 from the bedside radio and clatter of plate and silverware, below?

And what made you snap?–
the fine, long-fueled outrage
at towering injustices of the world?
Or did you only want your quarter back?

You stood before the machine,
gleaming its slick reds and blacks It hadn’t come across Two quarters
had chinked and plopped their way
down to the cold music of its guts,
but–one after another–those smooth,
flat, plastic rectangles yielded nothing from the press of trusting fingers You might have even shrugged it off
if the second coin had just returned You giggled and slapped the lever, looked around, then kicked and punched below its flowery white belt Barely reaching
from one chrome-edged side to the other, you grappled and rocked the immensity
in your embrace, the rhythm
relentless, grating, big as the moon,
astonishing as it tipped into the curses breathed into its hard face
even as it came over, all the way,
and crushed everything out of you,
right there on the grimy cement
What, then, to conclude?

You thirsted.


This is how you do the date:
number for the month / slash;
number for the day / another slash;
number for the year It’s simple The slashes separate
I write, “11590,”
and what do people think?
They probably figure out the year–
start from the right, go over two–
but then there’s ambiguity
For a long time the year-number
has been largest;
we could depend on that But something strange will happen soon Will we write, “1/1/0” or “1/1/00”?

“1/1”? Or just “1”–really start over?
Or “1/1/2000”?–be precise?
Don’t they all look strange?
But someone will decide: a committee
will ease us through
We’ll practice the whole year before Schools will offer special units And soon we’ll be cruising along,
deftly slipping in the numbers,
slashing slashes with confidence again.

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